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Building your LinkedIn Profile

BIPOC student using their laptop outside

Hi everyone, and welcome back to school! There are SO many events, information sessions and other things happening in the month of September, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

In Telfer, you will hear very often that you need to network, which is true. LinkedIn is a very powerful tool that can help you with this, but it must be used correctly. Thanks to it I got my first “big girl” job. But how do you build a solid profile? It’s not that hard.

Work and Volunteer Experience

Before you can go and add all your friends, you have to build your profile first. Fill in all the sections that LinkedIn provides and asks for. If you do not yet have work experience, that is okay. Fill out the volunteer experience section and education section, so employers see what you have been doing for the past few years. Even if your volunteer experience is from high school, you can still add it — it does not have to be Boys or Girls club level of volunteering, but can be something like Yearbook Club.

Important: when you are describing your experiences, do not just copy paste the responsibilities from your resume. The descriptions on LinkedIn should sound like a story, e.g. “When I worked at McDonald’s, I was part of a team of over 5 people every shift.” This sounds more personal and is easier to read.

Have a Nice Photo

Alright, you filled out your profile and added all your great experiences. Look at you! Now let’s put a face to the name.

Photos Not to Use

I am glad you had a great night out with your friends exploring the nightlife scene in Ottawa, however employers are not impressed that. Do not make those photos your profile picture. Do not use selfies or unprofessional photos as a general guideline.

Photos to Use

Ideally, you want to use a professional headshot like from a Telfer Career Centre event (did you know that one of the perks of attending a Telfer networking event is that you get a free professional portrait photo to use for your LinkedIn profile!?).

But, if you haven’t had the chance to attend one of those two events yet, ask one of your friends to take it. When I just started working on my profile, I dressed in professional attire and found a wall in the Desmarais building and got my friend to take a photo. Pro tip: don’t cross your arms, it comes off looking aggressive and not welcoming. There are other ways to look assertive and set off a positive connotation.

Add Your Connections

You now have your photo! Looking good. And you have your experience, wow! Time to show off your profile. Just go to “My Network” and add all your friends, colleagues, professors and contacts. Add people you may know professionally like your managers from high school or your volunteer coordinator.

Pro tip: do not add or accept random people you do not know and have no relevance to your professional network - it carries no value and will not gain you any more engagement. If you do not have many connections, don’t panic just yet. We will work on that. That’s the point of developing your profile and your network!

What Do I Do Now?

Your profile is fresh and ready to go. Now what? We actually use it! Whenever you go to networking events, whether it be through Telfer or in the community, and meet people, remember who they are! If you met someone, and didn’t get their business card, but had a good conversation, you can connect with them on LinkedIn.

Also, I highly recommend you add a personal note for every LinkedIn invitation you send. If you’re connecting with someone you know well, it’s a great opportunity to say something nice and reinforce the relationship. If you’re connecting with someone you don’t know well, it’s a great opportunity to remind him or her how you met. If you’re connecting with someone you don’t know at all, it’s your only opportunity to convince him or her to accept.

Here’s how:

  1. Introduce yourself
  2. Say where you met
  3. Mention a fun fact about yourself they would have remembered
  4. End on a nice note

“Hi, Bob! We met at the Telfer Connects event yesterday and talked about the shift in the marketing industry. I was the Telfer student from Russia! I’d love to connect to keep in touch.”

How Will LinkedIn Help Me?

OK, great, you have nice connections and a good profile. What do you tangibly gain? Well, I built my professional network and eventually got a job. Others use to connect with industry people and build their network. Other people gain a big audience for their writing or their business.

My friend and a Telfer alumni, Tanveer Mostafa, has founded the uOttawa Sales Society last year and has been actively using LinkedIn to promote that and his new initiatives like videos and podcasts. Here’s what he has to say about that:

LinkedIn has helped me find the target audience for MY voice, whether I am expressing it through blog posts, videos, or sharing professional advice on my feed. It allowed me to connect and engage with people, with whom I wouldn’t have otherwise interacted.

All in all, LinkedIn is a cool site and you all should use it, while you’re a student and afterwards to continue to build your network.

And if you need some additional help, the Telfer Career Centre offers workshops, small group clinics and one-on-one profile critiques to help you make the most of LinkedIn. Book an appointment with a career adviser, reviser or attend one of the many events by visiting the Career Calendar of Events.  

No more excuses! Happy connecting. :)

Sonya Gankina

Sonya Gankina

3rd Year Marketing Student